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How can students efficiently get an introduction into materials concepts for solar cells?

World Scientific


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Credit: Thomas Dittrich,

How can students be efficiently introduced to materials concepts for solar cells?

To date there is mainly basic literature about the physics of solar cells and there are specialized articles and books about certain types or classes of solar cell materials. After introducing the basics of solar cells and materials demands, this textbook Materials Concepts for Solar Cells brings together the principles of all four classes of materials concepts for solar cells.

Criteria for the quality of solar cell materials and their interfaces follow from the basic principles of solar cells. Therefore, the first part of this textbook gives an introduction into basics and materials demands of solar cells. The first chapter is about basic characteristics and characterization of solar cells. As a common criterion for losses of electric power, tolerable series and parallel resistances are defined. The photocurrent generation, its limitation by optical losses and the origin of photovoltage are explained in the second chapter. In the third chapter, recombination losses of photo-generated charge carriers are discussed for the different recombination mechanisms in relation to limiting properties of photovoltaic absorbers. For this purpose, the minimum lifetime condition is introduced as a general criterion. The fourth and fifth chapters are devoted to losses at charge-selective and ohmic contacts. The maximum energy conversion efficiency of solar cells is obtained for single-junction and multi-junction solar cells in the sixth chapter.

The four materials concepts for solar cells are distinguished by the principle strategies of preparing photovoltaic absorbers. These strategies are related to the growth of large crystals (solar cells based on crystalline silicon), to the epitaxial growth of sophisticated layer systems (solar cells based on III-V semiconductors), to the deposition of layers on foreign substrates (thin-film solar cells), and to the interpenetration of materials on the nm scale (nano-composite solar cells).

In the seventh chapter, the architecture of crystalline silicon solar cells, the growth of large doped silicon crystals with a very low density of defects, the formation of the emitter by different ways and passivation strategies of silicon surfaces are explained. The III-V semiconductor family and its hetero-junctions as well as the principles of epitaxial growth of layer systems for single- and multi-junction solar cells with III-V semiconductors are illuminated in the eighth chapter.

Transparent conducting oxides for transparent contacts and thin-film solar cells made from amorphous and microcrystalline silicon, chalcopyrites, kesterites, and cadmium telluride are described in the ninth chapter. The principles of a nano-composite, of quantum dot-based nano-composite solar cells, of organic and dye-sensitized solar cells, and of nano-photonic light concentration are reviewed in the tenth chapter.

This textbook results from lecture courses given to students around the world with different background in science and engineering. It will contribute to educate young people in the fields of solar cells and material science. This textbook can help to motivate young people to face challenges related to materials in photovoltaics. For example, materials and contacts between materials have to be further optimized and sometimes even replaced in order to increase the solar energy conversion efficiency, to increase the lifetime of solar cells, to reduce the energy needed for the production of solar cells, and to reduce the amount of scarce elements in solar cells, i.e. to improve the sustainability of photovoltaic energy production.


The author for this textbook is Thomas Dittrich,

This textbook is published by Imperial College Press and distributed by the World Scientific Publishing Co. ISBN 978-178326-44-5, ISBN 978-178326-44-2, ISBN 1-78326-444-6, ISBN 1-78326-445-4.

More information on the book can be found at: The book retails for US$118 / £78.

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